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Sonny Perdue’s Revolving Door Policy Already in Action

Monday, March 13, 2017

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, President Trump's nominee for secretary of agriculture, is still awaiting a Senate confirmation hearing. But just as he did in Georgia, he's already maneuvering to put his business partners in powerful policy positions.

Last week, an EWG investigation revealed that as governor Perdue appointed his businesses partners to government positions where they oversaw the allocation of state funding, and after leaving office he tapped former government executives for his new company. Now Politico reports that Perdue’s close business partner Heidi Green has been appointed as a senior adviser at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and, if Perdue is confirmed, will likely be his chief of staff.

Since 2011, Green has served as one of the four principals of Perdue Partners, a trading company that ships goods in and out of Georgia’s ports. Before that, Perdue had appointed Green to run the Georgia Board of Economic Development.

Two other principals of Perdue Partners – Trey Childress and David Perdue, the governor's cousin and now Georgia's junior U.S. senator – were also appointed to government positions by Perdue. Childress served as Georgia’s chief operating officer, while David Perdue served as a member of the Georgia Ports Authority.

In his final term, Sonny Perdue began laying the groundwork for his new business projects. Documents obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution show that Perdue and employees of his grain and trucking companies met at least five times with Georgia Ports Authority officials, despite the fact that government officials are prohibited from taking actions that would benefit their businesses.

“The governor wanted to know if there are any particular services which we feel could help them here,” Chip Hawkins, a sales manager at the ports, wrote in an internal memo dated Sept. 21, 2009. He later said that Perdue's businesses “are laying the groundwork so that when the governor leaves office they will be in a position to start up an operation.”

As senators prepare for Perdue’s confirmation hearing, it will be important for them to ask if Perdue’s companies benefited from state funds while he was governor, and if Perdue Partners or any of his other companies benefited from the revolving door between his government post and the private sector.   

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